South Sudan President Plans a Diplomatic Visit to Russia: An Analysis
Unveiling the Diplomatic Visit
Plans are underway for the President of South Sudan to visit Russia from September 27-28 to meet with the Russian President. Information about this planned visit was made available through a source within the South Sudanese embassy. Although further details have not been disclosed, the decision for such a visit suggests that important diplomatic or economic issues might be on the agenda for discussion.
The Mercenary Game: A Tale of Two Leaders
In 2003, a rebellion erupted in Sudan’s Darfur region, triggered by decades of oppression and neglect of African communities. In response, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir engaged local armed Arab groups, known as the Janjaweed, to suppress it. The Janjaweed became a formidable force, which successfully ended the revolt, earning al-Bashir’s trust.
Similarly, in the wake of the Ukrainian rebellion against Moscow’s diktats, Russian President Putin decided to annex Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and instigate a conflict in the eastern part of the country. To mask his invasion, Putin had a mercenary force, known as Wagner, created to be sent across the border into Ukraine. This force proved effective and became a trusted military tool for Putin’s foreign policy adventures.
Both al-Bashir and Putin thought that resorting to mercenaries was a strategic move in their pursuit of power consolidation. However, their violent creations turned against them, demonstrating the dangers involved in playing a mercenary game, even for seasoned dictators.
From Coup-Proofing to Civil War: The Case of Sudan
The decision of al-Bashir to rely on mercenaries to crush the uprising in Darfur led to his political downfall. The Janjaweed, along with the Sudanese army, engaged in war crimes against Darfuris, which earned al-Bashir an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC). To ensure the stability of his regime, al-Bashir decided to turn the Janjaweed militia into an official force, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), attaching it directly to the presidency.
The RSF expanded its operations abroad, fighting in Libya and Yemen. This expansion provided the RSF with new sources of revenue and connections with regional powers. However, it also led to an increased independence from al-Bashir, which eventually resulted in tensions between the RSF and the Sudanese military. These tensions escalated to a civil war, leading to the displacement of millions and reports of genocide in Darfur.
Foreign Adventures to Mutiny: The Case of Russia
By 2019, Putin had used his mercenaries to cause chaos not just in Ukraine, but also in Syria, Libya, and the Central African Republic. The wealth and business empire of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of Wagner, grew exponentially, as did his ambition for power. However, tensions between Wagner and the Russian military leadership escalated when the war in Ukraine did not progress according to plan. This tension led to a short-lived mutiny against Russia’s top military leadership, posing a significant threat to Putin’s rule.
Sudan-Russia Relations: A Closer Look
According to information released after an 8-day visit to Moscow by the Deputy Chairman of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council, General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, discussions were held on a variety of topics, including politics, economy, national security, and the fight against terrorism. The possibility of Russia establishing a naval base in the city of Port Sudan in the Red Sea was also discussed.
The establishment of a Russian base in Sudan was initially approved by Putin in November 2020. However, the Chief of Staff of Sudan stated in November 2020 that there is not yet a full agreement on this matter. The establishment of such a base could potentially support peace and security in the region.
Looking Forward: A Diplomatic Visit with Implications
As the South Sudanese President plans his visit to Russia, it is clear that the relations between these two nations are of significant importance. The visit is expected to strengthen diplomatic ties, and also possibly discuss economic cooperation and mutual support in international forums. The outcomes of this visit could have far-reaching implications for both nations and the region at large.
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